Blog categories…

I’m just in the process of introducing categories on the blog (you can’t see them yet, as I haven’t found or added the code to have them listed on my pages, but will do as soon as Sarda gets online and helps me out).

Now, the quandary is, do I got for big general categories (music, life, politics, cats etc) or do I go for v. specific ones (gigs, tech-talk, food, cat health, cat photos, uk politics, world politics, spirituality etc)? Not sure which way to go… I guess I should start with general ones, and then add categories as they become necessary.

Soundtrack – D’Angelo, ‘Voodoo’.

Forum Spammers…

Been getting a lot of spammers on the forum of late, which is a pain. But I’ve finally found the thing to click in the forum admin bit that means I can manually approve anyone signing up! Hurrah… I hope it works.

Soundtrack – Daby Toure, ‘Diam’.

Gotta love macs.

Ever since TSP and I got an iBook last summer, I’ve wrestled with trying to get things on the laptop to print via printer sharing on my XP PC. now that the iBook is connected to the internet independently of the PC, I thought ‘ah, it’d be nice to connect it straight to the printer as well’. So I go to the Epson website to find the drivers. ‘no driver available’ which at first seems like a bad thing, but the second sentence says ‘possibly because it’s already built in to OSX’ or something like that.

So I plug in the printer, and hit ‘print’ and up comes a box that tells me it’s an Epson Colour 680 (oh yes, 2001’s finest technology) and proceeds to print the document.

Live with OSX gets easier and easier. Roll on the 12 intel-powered MacBook…

Soundtrack – Andrew Buckton, ‘Now, But Not Yet’ (probably my favourite of all the albums I’ve played on that don’t have my name on the cover. The whole process was a pleasure from start to finish)

Wireless and screenless

thanks to the house insurance company demanding that we get window locks fitted, I had to completely dismantle my office yesterday (those of you that have seen my office are currently receiving oxygen at the thought…). The lack of a desktop computer to hook my laptop up to, and the marvellous experiences I’d had with wireless in the US (wi-fi is the finest invention since the Ebow), I decided it was time to get a wireless hub.

Four hours of tweaking and two calls to Onetel later, and I got it working. It’s worth noting that if you’re trying to configure a Zoom X6 5590 wireless modem and router that you can’t write to flash from Safari – I tried for ages and couldn’t get it to work. As soon as I switched to Firefox (which I didn’t even know I’d downloaded for mac!) it worked a treat and I was able to configure it. Well, configure everything except the password for the wireless network, so at the moment, anyone in my area can access my network, though not my computer, thankfully.

One of the methods I tried to get the router configured was to hook up my desktop computer and try that, but when I did it appeared the screen wasn’t working. I tried the screen with my laptop and that was fine, so it seems my video card has gone west. Need to get some advice today on fitting new video cards from either the Lovely G or The Captain…

But at least I now have WiFi in the house, the nicest upshot of which is that i’m sat here in total silence – no humming fans on my PC providing noise pollution. I can go and sit in front of the TV and do all my email things while watching family guy, and life is good.

Tonight I’m playing in Petersfield with Theo – first night of our tour, playing a whole load of new music, some favourites and some new versions of old tunes. I’m really looking forward to it, though I’m still feeling a little jetlagged. It’ll be my first theo gig with the Looperlative, which will be fun.

And tomorrow we’re at the Vortex in London – please come along!

Scratch that…

Found it!!!

fuck me, that’s a relief – I was working out how on earth I was going to fill the next two weeks if I’d been stuck here!!

*gulp*

no need to cancel teaching either… :o)

Not again…

Right, first thing – last night’s gig was a blinder – much fun, great audience response (OK, except the couple that walked out after the first set and emailed me to express their displeasure… fortunately, they appear to have been in a minority of two) – playing with Cleveland and BJ is such a treat – fantastic players, great improvisers, they both listen really well, and the path of each improv seemed to unfold without anyone trying to pull in a direction the music itself wasn’t going in. Most enjoyable.

No time for a longer breakdown now because – the ‘not again’ of the blog title – I’ve lost my passport.

How do I did this??? More to the point, why do I do this??? Every sodding time! Anyone with any ideas where it might be, let me know… I think I’m going to have to cancel my first lot of teaching today, in order to keep looking… :o(

calling all blogspot/blogger.com bloggers

Oi, you lot with the blogger.com/blogspot.com blogs (and anyone else on one of those kinds of blog sites) – how about heading over to your blog now and making it possible for people to comment without having a blogger account – yes, you Sid Smith, and you Orphy! Many’s the time I’ve wanted to comment on lots of blogs, but can’t.

I don’t, in all honesty, mind people having no comments – if you just don’t care what people think, that’s fine – I had none for years before I was, frankly, bullied into it. But to limit it to blogger subscribers is a all too arbitrary way of filtering your blog comments. You can use that wassname thing – the words as images that you have to copy thing – to protect from spammers…

go on, I want to comment!

dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Our present to ourselves last christmas was a DVD player – it had just got too annoying to go to the local video rental place and find that they had it on DVD but not video, and that the DVD had loads of cool extras. So we gave in.

This year, our pressie to ourselves is a Freeview box – like cable or satellite without the millions of shit channels. You just get the free-to-air stuff that’s worth watching – BBC 3, 4 and News 24, More4, E4 and some other vaguely interesting stuff. And all in digital loveliness… which is great til the signal drops, then it goes mental… Anyway, lots of TV fun to be had – from this evening’s viewing, More 4 and BBC four seem to be showing a lot of shows that are like TV versions of Radio 4 shows, which is just fine by me.

So that’s our chrissy pressie to ourselves. And this is my christmas present to you – enjoy.

Soundtrack – Gillian Welch, ‘Time (The Revelator)’.

Just what I need – another place to blog!

I was recently invited to start contributing to a bass news/info/reportage blog called ‘Big Bottom’, which is at 24stgeorge.com – there a whole host of bass writers and bloggers involved.

Here’s the first bit that I’ve written for it, headed ‘You Can’t Do That On A Bass’ –

The strangest – and perhaps most surprising – factor in being a solo bassist is that your main critics are other bassists. General music listeners are more than happy to assess how your music sits with them as music, making the same stylistic and emotional responses they would to a record by Coldplay, Cradle of Filth or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Some bassists, on the other hand, tend to do two things – firstly, there are the shredders who listen with their eyes, measuring the validity of what you do by how clever it looks and whether or not they could play the piece in question. If it’s too hard for them, it must be cool. If it looks too hard to work out, that’s great. The music becomes some kind of athletic challenge, or like some kind of break-dance move, where musicians are supposed to out-do each other in the complexity and freakery of their playing.

the other response is to say ‘you can’t do that on a bass’ – those players who take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of acceptability for this beloved instrument of ours, as though the decision to play melodies and chords on a bass, or to process the signal so it no longer resembles the tradition sound of a bass guitar, is somehow sacrilegious and insulting to ‘the greats’.

I’ve had hilarious emails and responses from people in both camps – fortunately the ones who bother to contact me are few and far between – telling me that I’m either ‘not fully exploring the potential of the bass guitar’ or that I’m ‘not a real bassist, it doesn’t sound like a bass, you might as well be playing guitar’ etc. etc.

The nonsense here is that the title ‘bass guitar’ is a projection, a label, not an absolute. It helps us to define the thinking behind the design of a particular lump of wood and metal and graphite, but ultimately it’s just a plank with some strings on it. The role of ‘bass player’ is one that is perhaps best fulfilled with a bass guitar, but the possible applications of the sound produced by an instrument made with that heritage go way, way beyond anything that could be constrained by the term ‘bass playing’.

I’ve often considered relabeling the instrument I play. Calling it Baritone Guitar or something, just to get away from the weight of expectation that’s there amongst bassists that you’re either going to be ‘laying it down’ or slapping and tapping like some kind of circus performer. But I have resisted such a shift for two reasons – firstly, I love the bass. I love the heritage, I love playing bass. I chose this instrument because I love the role it plays in a most contemporary music. I’m drawn to the visceral, emotive quality that it injects into music – one listen to the White Stripes shows what happens when you leave it out! And I’m interested in taking that forward. I’m drawn to the work of a lot of the people who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on instruments from the bass family – Michael Manring, Jonas Hellborg, Matthew Garrison, Trip Wamsley, Abraham Laboriel, Victor Wooten… I like being part of that process, part of the musical dialogue with players around the world looking to further the body of work produced from within the bass community.

I’m pleased to say that those two groups – the circus fans and the luddites – don’t occupy that big a place within the bass world, and I meet a lot of bassists who are just as interested as I in the music that’s playing, who remember that whatever else happens, ‘it’s all about what comes out of the speakers’.

I encourage you to experiment, to see how your bass can fill the gaps in your band, how you can exploit those other registers that the bass does so well – melodies on bass don’t sound like guitar, they sound like melodies on bass, a whole different colour and texture.

Just make it musical.